Friday, December 17, 2010

4th Annual Dark Days Challenge—Week 1

As in past 3 years, I will again participate in Urban Hennery’s Dark Days Challenge.

What is this Challenge? 4 meals a month focused on sustainable, organic, local, and ethical (SOLE) foods. For full details see this post. My definition varies from the posted standard in that I define local as 100 miles for food grown in the Chesapeake Bay region, up to 200 for the others. I plan to allow up to 10% to fall outside of that, with exceptions for certain things like salt, coffee, oil and a few spices as long as I can get them fair trade and organic. Also, organic doesn’t have to be certified, since most of the local farms are not, but it must represent the same or better in non-harmful and sustainable practices.

My first meal that met the challenge was a simple but tasty potato and beet hash with poached eggs from Cooking Light used up potatoes that I dug as part of the u-pick at the Great Country Farms CSA this fall as well as sweet potatoes that came in my box. Additionally I used beets, sage, onion, and brown eggs from the vendors at the Leesburg farmers market. I used non-local white vinegar even though I believe there may be a few local vinegar producers, because I have a large container of commercial vinegar that I got because I use it for cleaning and I the local apple cider and balsamic vinegar would provide too strong a taste to the delicate poached eggs. Additionally I used a little non-local oil and salt. This hash is so good that it has become my new standby for breakfast and diner and the leftovers go great as the centerpiece for my lunch at work. This picture doesn't do it justice.

My second meal was actually several variations of a smoothie using the frozen fruit which is how I preserved this summers extra CSA peaches, raspberries, cherries, blackberries, and strawberries. I used some local yogurt and apple cider from the farmers market and blended the heck out of it.  I know it seems funny to feature frozen smoothies in winter just as most of the country is getting hit with heavy snows and record lows, and I will admit that I had to stop drinking these on my way out to my car this week when it was in the 20s with wind chills in the single digits. But it is the perfect way to enjoy those summer flavors and have some fun with the food. I found I especially liked the peaches with the tart cherries…go figure.